Reigning MotoGP world champion Marc Marquez struggled more with his injury than he had anticipated as free practice got under way ahead of the Qatar MotoGP.

The 21-year-old Repsol Honda star was back in action for the first time in six weeks after breaking his lower right leg in a dirt bike spill.

Marquez completed 15 laps without painkillers and ended FP1 in 11th position with a best time of 1m 56.682s under the floodlights at the Losail circuit.

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Although troubled by his right foot, Marquez was relatively satisfied with his track return and is confident he can climb the leaderboard on Friday.

"I am fairly happy with how the first session went, because I haven't been on the bike in a while. I didn't think my foot would bother me so much - especially on the right hand corners - although at the end of the session I felt better and this gives me hope of improving tomorrow," said Marquez, who missed two pre-season tests due to his injury.

"We are going to try to follow the same working strategy as today. In terms of the times, we aren't too far off Jorge [Lorenzo], Valentino [Rossi] and Dani [Pedrosa].

"And it's normal that the riders who were here for the test a fortnight ago are fast right from the get-go."

Marquez, third on his MotoGP race debut one year ago, was 1.481s adrift of Thursday pacesetter Aleix Espargaro.